The Misperception Problem
Research says that many people tend to see the Bible as an archaic text with rules and laws that are harsh, judgmental, and impossible to follow.
They also believe the Bible is behind the times when it comes to contemporary social issues like race, gender, and sexuality, not to mention the theories of modern science.
Because people look at Christians and see not only the way we are trying to live our lives but also the way we are unable to meet the standards of our own faith, they get mixed signals and develop some misconceptions about the Bible. On the one hand, they think of the Bible as nothing more than a book of rules and regulations—a killjoy that sucks the fun out of life. On the other hand, they see the Bible as being unreasonable and unrealistic, knowing that even Christians fail to follow its numerous laws.
Without knowing what it actually says about many social issues, a number of individuals also assume the Bible is anti-women, anti-gay, and pro-slavery—they think the Bible supports the injustice of men and women based on the way they look and what they believe.
In 2016, The Richards Group and American Bible Society performed an online omnibus survey with 1,000 nationally-representative participants. Of those respondents:
- 50% believe the Bible is judgmental toward some aspect of their life, and
- 43% believe the Bible is oppressive toward the LGBT community.
Many of these individuals also think the Bible is anti-science. From understandings of the Earth’s origins to the presence of the supernatural, the Bible is often seen as an uninformed, ignorant book that contradicts the facts of modern science.
Based on history alone and how Christians have conducted themselves, especially when it comes to social issues, it’s easy to see why people think of the Bible this way. They hold these misconceptions of the Bible not because of what the Bible actually says but because of how Christians have lived out the Bible. In other words, we are to blame for many skewed perceptions of the Bible. We’ve been judgmental and self-righteous, holding others to a higher standard than we’re able and willing to follow. Ignoring the Bible’s message of love and grace and the belief that all people have equal dignity, worth, and value, we haven’t reflected the essence of the Bible.